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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

picture tutorial for sewing mini cloth liners

Sewing cloth pads is really not as hard as you might think. I've already given you a full picture tutorial for sewing regular sized cloth pads. You will also find all the dimensions for cutting out pieces for these mini cloth liners there.

Mini cloth liners are just about essential to my wardrobe. Many women and teen girls buy disposable dry liners to wear on a daily or semi-daily basis, so why not sew your own washable ones that will, like the regular pads, not only be better for your body, but also kinder to the earth and free up a little spending cash in your wallet?

To begin, you will need to trace and cut out your pieces, with the guidelines given in the other tutorial, link above. For one liner pad, you need 4 pieces cut in the pretty outside flannel fabric, and one piece cut in the inner lining quilter's batting.

As per the very top pic at the head of this article, stack two outer flannel pieces good side facing in to each other. Stack the other two the same way, and then place them on top of the inner lining piece.

Start sewing. I find that these mini cloth liners are small enough I don't need to pin the fabric, but you can if that makes you more comfortable. Sew all around the edge, leaving a gap on one side about 4 finger's width, or large enough through which to flip the pad right side out.

The tags of thread mark the start and finish of my sewing, leaving the gap in the middle where my fingers are.

Sew both stacks.

Flip them right side out, shape well, and press smooth either with an iron or your hands. Better quality flannel tends to cooperate well without ironing.

Topstitch around the outer seam, all the way around the edge, closing up the gap with the rough fabric edges turned inside the pad. Topstitching not only closes the hole, but ensures the pad will remain flat after washing and wearing.

I forgot to change the thread before starting this mini cloth liner, but it ends up serving a purpose. The black edged piece on the left will circle around the gusset of your underpants and snap together. The white edged piece on the right contains the absorbent inner core of quilter's batting, and will lie on top.

Place the two pieces on top of each other and sew along the existing topstitch seam to secure together.

I like to secure the pieces together by sewing twice along that seam. Rather than backstitching, the easiest way is to sink the needle down as an anchor into the fabric, lift the presser foot, and turn the pad the other way around so that you can sew along the same seam going forward.

Almost finished mini cloth liner. All that is left now is to fold pieces in place, decide where you would like the snaps to fit, and handstitch or hole punch snaps on your liner.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

longevity brandy and "elixir of the greek gods"

 Longevity Brandy

I have given this recipe to friends, served the drink to guests, and the result is always favorable. Everyone loves it. Once infused with these herbs, smooth brandy takes on a sweet, spicy headiness that dances on the tongue, compliments many foods or is fabulous as a cocktail alone, and energizes the drinker with a stable, mellow mood.

Eleuthero root, or Siberian ginseng, is an immune building herb. Rather than stimulating and exciting the immune system, like echinacea, taken regularly over time eleuthero builds its ability to perform efficiently and helps the body regulate responses to stress. Astragalus root, like echinacea, is an immune stimulant, which makes it unsuitable for those with immune disorders, but unlike echinacea is safe for long term use, as the body does not build resistance to it over time. Astragalus is also an energy booster and increases physical stamina. Wild yam root contains compounds that when consumed and digested provide the building blocks for steroids and hormones. It supports the glandular systems, and can help regulate healthy hormone function for a satisfying sex life in both men and women, according to several herbalists. When balanced with the sweet and warming flavors of ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and vanilla bean, these herbs make a solid foundation for maintaining a healthy libido and immune system.

As with any alcohol, don't abuse, and this is not for pregnant women. Due to the herb content, this is not recommended for exclusively nursing mamas, either, although is great for non-pregnant, non-nursing women, and men of all ages, in moderate quantities. I suggest serving 1/2 to 1 shot for a woman, and 1 to 2 shots for a man, up to several times a week. Serve this drink at the start of a hot date and give your evening an extra nudge in a favorable direction.

Add to jar in standard tincture measures of 2 oz total weight per quart: 

one 4 inch stick of cinnamon
3 star anise
1 vanilla bean pod, scored down the center to open it for flavor release
     (or 4 Tb vanilla essence)
1/3 oz eleuthero root
1/3 oz astragalus root
1/3 oz wild yam root
2/3 oz fresh ginger root or 1/3 oz dried ginger root pieces 

Cover it all in brandy, or in 2:1 brandy and vodka, 80 proof. Cap and let infuse for 2 full weeks, giving it a good hard shake daily.

By this point, the brandy should smell lovely. Add 5 whole dried apricots, recap, and let the tincture sit for another week.

Strain and reserve the brandy. Eat the apricots if you like. They taste delicious, but remember they will be plumped up with alcohol so enjoy slowly. Store the Longevity Brandy as you would a tincture, in a cool, dark cabinet for up to 3 years.

You have the option to add 1 part raw honey to 3 parts brandy to create a sweet liqueur. Just pour in the honey and shake until it dissolves. Serve the honeyed brandy by itself in small sipping glasses. The unsweetened Longevity Brandy is delicious poured over ice, with cranberry juice or the reserved syrup from home canned pears or peaches. Pop in a stemmed cherry or a fresh strawberry and this drink is what we have dubbed, "elixir of the Greek gods", due to the magic it seems to work on date nights!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

picture tutorial for sewing cloth pads

I decided to just do it. There are a lot of tutorials out there for sewing cloth pads, but some of them are frankly a little confusing to the amateur or beginning seamstress, and most of them didn't show enough photos as I thought would have been helpful when I was figuring out the process. Hopefully, this provides you with enough info to get sewing your own supply of healthy, natural, TSS-free, truly sanitary and safe pads!

First, you need to figure out your templates. Every piece is equal to itself, no front or back to the pads, so that if you cut out the shape on paper and then folded it into half and half again, the edges would all match up.

This rounded parallelogram is the basic cutout for regular sized pads, and can be sewn thickness for light, medium or heavy flow. Approximately 7 inches wide and a little over 9 inches long.

This small rectangle is the extra core for medium and heavy flow lining in regular pads, and is 3 inches wide by almost 7 inches long. 

This peanut shape is about the same size as the core piece above, and is for all pieces for sewing mini pads, or liners.

Okay. So here you see everything together.

Use your cardboard templates to draw out pieces on your fabric. I use THIN cotton or bamboo quilter's batting (never fluffy anything, and never polyester or synthetics) for all the inner absorbent pieces. I use 100% cotton flannel for the outer pieces, or you can use 1 PUL (polyurethane lining) fabric piece and 1 cotton flannel piece if you would like a waterproof bottomed pad.

After prewashing all your fabric on hot and drying it, you will need to cut out the following:

Regular sized pad, light to medium flow, needs 1 parallelogram piece, 1 rectangle piece, 2 outer pieces of flannel (or 1 flannel and 1 PUL fabric).

Regular sized pad, heavy flow, needs 2 parallelogram pieces, 1 rectangle piece, 2 outer pieces of flannel (or 1 flannel and 1 PUL fabric).

Mini/underpant liner pad needs 1 peanut shape piece in batting/inner absorbent fabric, and 4 pieces of outer flannel.

Cut the parallelogram and peanut pieces with sewing room, about 1/3rd inch. Very important! You will be sewing along the drawn line. The only piece you cut actually on the drawn line is the rectangular piece for the large pads. Cutting always seems about half the work, to me. Once you get all the pieces cut, the sewing doesn't take long.

Now you start sewing. 

Figure out what lining pieces you need, and layer them together. Sew the smaller piece onto the larger piece(s).

Then, layer on the outer pieces in this order: bottom = lining, middle = bottom fabric face up, top = top fabric wrong side up. This way, the two outer fabric pieces are right side facing each other. Here, you see the pink fabric is the PUL waterproof bottom, and the purple tweed flannel is the top of the pad.

Pin everything in place. Use more pins than this if you think it's going to shift around.

Now sew along the line, but be sure to leave an opening. You see where my hand is? the threads either side of my fingers? I started on the left, sewed around the pad and stopped on the right, leaving an opening wider than my four fingers. 

Carefully trim off excess fabric. Don't cut too close to the seam, just trim off anything that might prove bulky once you've turned the pad right side out.

Now, you turn the pad right side out through the hole you left. My finger is lifting the two outside pieces apart. This is the way you want to turn it.

Just keep pushing and pulling, gently. Work it until it's right side out.

Almost done. Your pad is pretty sturdy at this point, but you need to sew that hole closed.

Turn the edges under and in, and sew a top stitch on the pad to close the hole. I hope you were doing this the whole time but I especially want to note now that you must be sure to anchor the seams by going forward and backward a bit at the start and end of each seam.

Sew all the way around the pad edge with that topstitch. This keeps the pad lying flat and smooth, as well as ensuring that the pieces are thoroughly sewn together for many years of use.

All you have left to do is figure out where you want your snaps, and sew them in place.

I hope to get pics for the mini pads / liners for you in another post soon! and I will link it here for your easy finding.

Washing and care
Cloth pads are really easy to care for. You will notice when you switch to using cloth that the "normal" odor you expect to smell during your period is not really there anymore. Menstrual blood does have a strong metallic scent, sure, but the real problem comes from the chemicals and the absorbent synthetic gels in disposable pads. You will no longer have this problem when you use cloth.

Save soiled pads in a container, such as a bucket under the sink, or a mesh washing bag. Let them dry out for a few days while you use your stash. They won't smell much at all when wet, and any minor smell will dissipate as they dry. Menstrual blood is sterile and not at all hazardous, and so long as you keep the pads from coming into contact with any other soiling they are perfectly fine for a few days.

When ready to wash, soak pads for 30-60 minutes in a bucket or sink full of cold water. There is no need to add anything special, but if you want to remove stains (which have never found necessary) you can add an all natural product, such as Bac-Out by Biokleen.

Either dump the pink water onto the roses or tomatoes, as the plants love the iron rich water, or you can pour the whole thing into the washing machine. Wash pads alone or with a dark load, on cold, and without fabric additives -- no brighteners or whiteners, and no fabric softeners as these create a film on the fabric over time that inhibits absorption.

Dry flat, or tumble gently on low if made without PUL. Reuse again and again.

Comfy extras

After delivering a baby, your personal Australia is probably a bit raw. Cloth pads a fabulous way to not only protect your body while saving some cash (as washing and reusing for 3-6 weeks will easily prove cheaper than using disposable pads), but also to provide yourself with greater comfort. And not just because they're cloth.

In those early days postpartum, I remember loving the ice-filled diaper that the nurses brought me at the hospital. I wish now I'd known about this idea! You can dampen and chill your own cloth pads for comfort following the instructions here, at Just Making Noise. If you are uncertain about essential oils right after delivering, when the body is most vulnerable and open, just use aloe juice and pop the pads in the fridge overnight. I also find that painful periods now, when I'm not postpartum, are soothed with these herbal pads:
What you will need:
Overnight maxi pads (cloth or disposable)
2 cups Witch Hazel (distilled extract, available at any drug store)
½ cup pure, edible Aloe Vera gel/juice (fresh or store bought)
15-20 drops Lavender essential oil
15-20 drops Rosemary essential oil
15-20 drops German Chamomile essential oil
Aluminum foil
In bowl, thoroughly combine everything. Pour into a small spray bottle or simply use a Tablespoon. Unfold the pads and spray each pad until damp or pour 1 Tbsp. (make a vertical line down the center area) on each pad. Wrap each pad in aluminum foil and store in the freezer. When ready to use, take one out and unwrap it. Let it thaw for about 2 minutes before put it on. If you put it on right away, it will be COLD… but it feels great!!

Note: If you are using fresh aloe vera leaves. Simply peel the skin off and lightly rinse it. Then put the clear gel in your blender and blend until smooth.